Mother Bear Destroys Inside of Couple's Car While Trapped for 8 Hours

A couple from Red Lodge, Montana, heard a bear near their car one night, but they did not anticipate discovering that the bear got into the vehicle and was trapped for about eight hours.

Mike Pilati told CBS affiliate station KTVQ that the bear was in the car from just after 11 p.m. until about seven in the morning.

The outlet reported that a black bear, whose cubs were nearby, managed to get inside the car but became trapped when the door closed. Once the bear was freed, she and her cubs moved on from the area, leaving behind a mess in the car.

Bears Crossing Road
A couple discovered that a bear was trapped inside their car overnight while her cubs were nearby. Here, A stock image of two black bears crossing the street between cars. steverts/iStock

Kylie Kembel, a bear specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told Newsweek that this particular bear is known in the area, though bears getting into cars does not happen often.

"It is not common for bears to get into cars," Kembel said. "Once they get food rewards, they can seek them out easier."

She said that there have been other reports of bears getting into cars this summer and encouraged residents to report these incidents.

Kembel said officials have attempted to target this particular bear with traps with no success, but they continue to monitor any reports they receive about her.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, officials discourage people from feeding wildlife directly or indirectly.

When an animal is fed, it may lead to animals relying on human food, which is often "nutritionally inadequate."

"Wildlife lose their fear of humans and learn that they can boldly forage for human food, consequently conflicts, nuisance behavior and risks to human safety are sure to occur," the agency said.

Pilati said he heard a crunching sound, and while he first thought the bear was chewing on the garbage can, he later learned it was the sound of his car.

The car lights were flashing and the alarm went off, but the couple did not know that the bear was inside the car. They called the sheriff's department and were later contacted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks who said an official would stop by the following morning.

When Pilati discovered that the bear was inside the car the next morning, KTVQ reported that he opened the door from a distance by using a stick.

"I reached through that side door there and reached out and popped the door of the car and the bear [came] roaring out of there," he told the outlet.

While the bear and her cubs immediately left, the couple realized that the car's windshield was broken and the bear chewed on the dashboard.

The couple told the news station that they did not have food in the car but they believe that the bear may have been opening different car doors in search of food.

Kembel recommends that people should avoid leaving food in their car, lock their car doors and, if someone recently transported food, to air out the car to eliminate the smell.

Newsweek reached out to Mike Pilati for comment.

This is not the first report of a bear that entered a car.

The Aspen, Colorado Police Department shared a video showing a car that was broken into by a bear that destroyed its interior.

Another bear that was spotted in the front seat of a woman's vehicle ultimately damaged the interior by ripping apart two doors and seats.

One bear that was trapped inside a car died from heatstroke as outside temperatures reached nearly 95 degrees.